Date Thesis Awarded

5-2018

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)

Department

Religious Studies

Advisor

Alexander Angelov

Committee Members

Paul Heideman

Patton Burchett

Abstract

Within the modern field of Religious Studies, there exists an epistemological divide between structuralist and post-structuralist thought. Structuralists seek to find underlying and universally applicable knowledge about religion, while post-structuralists argue that traditions must be studied within their own specific geographic, temporal, and cultural contexts. In an aim to reconcile these two disparate paradigms, I introduce the Religio-Biological Model and apply it to two distinct religious traditions: the Maori and the Vaisnava Sahajiya. Drawing from both religious and biological theory (specifically multilevel selection theory), this thesis seeks to create an interdisciplinary framework for the future study of religion that cohesively binds together culture, history, and biology. Through this introduction of a common epistemological model, divisions within and between academic disciplines can be reduced.

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